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Students, faculty discuss coronavirus regulations for 2022-23 academic year

Similar to last year, University regulations state that masks must be worn in libraries as well as in teaching and clinical spaces.  – Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

The University’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) regulations for the 2022-23 academic year were introduced on August 16.

All students and employees are still required to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 before arriving on campus, according to the announcement. Additionally, face coverings must be worn in classrooms, libraries and clinical spaces.

In a change from last school year, face coverings will not be required at indoor events, but proof of full vaccination still needs to be shown, according to the press release.

James Ryan, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, said he believes that some regulations, such as having to wear a mask on the bus, are still inconvenient.

He said the University should remove all regulations as soon as possible as there are no masking regulations for the general public.

Avery Sullivan, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said Rutgers’ masking policies are inconsistent across different settings.

“It just feels very inconsistent between not having to wear a mask in the gym but having to wear one in a classroom and not having to wear one in the residence halls but having to wear one on the bus,” she said. “We want to do the right thing, but it’s hard to do so when the rules are constantly changing.”

Sullivan feels that these discrepancies increase her worries over whether she is staying safe. She said that during class, she feels safe with a mask on but questions whether she is staying safe in areas where she is not wearing a mask.

Jamal Ali, an assistant professor in the Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures, said his and other language classes are less effective when students and instructors wear face coverings. 

“Students learn words and pronunciation by watching lips move and by hearing and imitating, and the instructor responds to and gives feedback on their oral production,” he said. “All of this is of course much more difficult when everyone's mouths are covered.” 

Ali said that he understood why there were regulations in place during the previous academic year, but now that all students and staff are required to be vaccinated, he believes that the face covering requirement in teaching spaces should be eliminated. 

Compared to last year, he said students and faculty are less strict about wearing their masks properly. He also said students have told him that their instructors are not as strictly enforcing the mask regulations as they had been previously. 

In addition to COVID-19, the monkeypox virus is a concern for the University, according to the press release. Rutgers does not have access to the monkeypox vaccine or treatment but does encourage any student or faculty member who has contracted or been exposed to the virus to seek outside treatment, according to the press release.

In response to whether regulations regarding monkeypox should be put into place, Ryan said he believes there needs to be more data available before such policies are established.

“I believe there should be more data and more numbers before we can make any assumptions or conclusions about (monkeypox regulations),” he said.

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